Great [Monster] Journey 23

RSanon Mar 1st, 2014 1,503 Never
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  1. The Scorched Lands beat down on the combatants, apathetic to their quarrel. Those fighting pushed back with the weight of their intensity and the volume of their emotion. Without a breeze, the stagnant air felt as thick as molasses. Galen’s hairs curled up at its touch.
  3. The mothman brandished her halberd, taking careful steps toward Galen, her eyes alight with hunger growing more rabid with each second. Just behind her, the uninjured harpy hovered a few feet above ground, poised to strike at a hint of movement from Galen. The sound of her flapping wings were swallowed by the roar of flame from the many spouts around them.
  5. Galen’s breath came out hotter than the air surrounding them. He’d lost all sense of direction but for two things: Seira, the one he needed to protect, the one these monsters had broken, was behind him, and his enemies, the ones he planned to break, were in front. Emotion flowed from his arm and into his weapon. The cold bite he was used to turned hot and Toneruth became heavier in his grip, but at the same time balanced and easier to wield. Any protests his body may have given were drowned in anger, an anger that dripped from every ounce of his being. From his eyes glowed hate. From his stance bled fury. From his intent shone ruin.
  7. There would be no vigor left in his enemies’ bodies, and with their defeat, Seira would be safe.
  9. Until that happened, he would fight. Only death could stop him.
  11. “Umm, Galen, your body feels weird,” said Mino. “I’m not sure I like it.”
  13. Mino continued to massage and hold his body with her own like clothing, doing all she could to soak up his pain and fatigue while feeding strength back into him. He cared not where his energy came from, only that he had it, and that it was enough for his aims. He didn’t bother acknowledging Mino’s concern--there would be time for reflection later.
  15. As the mothman and harpy drew closer and Galen’s fury built, the distinction between where his arms ended and Toneruth began blurred. His grip had grown so tight his hands were numb. Toneruth responded to his movements like it was a part of his body. When his anger pulsed into his hands, Toneruth received it too. When his palms sweat with effort, so did the blade. Galen felt not some broken-off knife blade in his hands, but a sword. A full-length, weighted, razor-sharp sword. Even without looking, he could see the smooth, unbroken blade along one side, while the dull edge ran along the other. He felt Toneruth full and complete, a sword of not steel but will.
  17. And his will was to cut.
  19. As if compelled by some unseen force, Galen pumped more and more emotion as fuel into Toneruth. A hunger grew within it, one to match the feast Galen had prepared. His arms shook with the sheer volume of invisible force passing through them, but Galen paid no heed. He would cut, and to cut, he needed an edge made for cutting.
  21. “Galen…”
  23. Mino may not have even existed at that moment. Her voice was nothing more than a raindrop; Galen’s rage a tsunami. At when it hit shore, it all flowed out of him at once.
  25. Into action.
  27. With a deep roar that could’ve well belonged to a beast, Galen charged. As his feet exploded from the groud, so too did Toneruth, no longer constrained by the physical length of the weapon. From the broken tip extended a glowing red blade, arcs of electricity sparking up and down its length. In Galen’s hands, it felt exactly as he expected a sword to feel: heavy, with a purposeful momentum that carried it straight to its enemy’s heart. The significance of it didn’t register to Galen--he had what he needed, and now he was going to use it.
  29. The mothman and harpy both faltered at seeing the new Toneruth, wings and feet slowing and eyes locked on the weapon. The mothman brought her weapon up to block instead of strike, and the harpy began to loop around behind Galen to surround him. They’d only just recovered when his roar peaked and his sword came down with its first cut. The mothman winced at the connection of their weapons, half-expecting Galen’s to cleave right through her’s, but the halberd held. Grinning, she pushed back against Galen, using her still-fresh body in an attempt to overcome his fatigued one.
  31. Galen’s eyes flickered, and with another pulse of rage sent down his arms into Toneruth, a lick of red lighting shot forth down the halberd and into the mothman. She yelped, pulling the halberd away as fast as she could, and took a step back, out of Galen’s range. When he stepped forward to pursue, she sent a jab at him. Growling in frustration, he held Toneruth out to smack her next attack away, but a quick warning from Sybyll told him to turn around. On instinct, Galen shifted his feet to spin away from the halberd and face his body toward the harpy coming from behind. The second he eyed his target, he sent out a downward slash aimed at the talons coming for him.
  33. Mino covered his ears to protect him from the harpy’s resulting shriek when the sword swiped through one of the harpy’s feet. Toneruth buzzed as it cut, and the smell of burning flesh mixed in with the rest of the Land’s distinctive scent, but just as always, no physical mark appeared where Toneruth struck. Galen snorted and went for another attack, but the harpy was already too high to hit and Sybyll was yelling at him to turn around. Another spin and he caught the mothman’s halberd with Toneruth just in time. The blow glanced off to Galen’s left and he dove forward into the opening.
  35. Hissing, the mothman sidestepped Galen’s jab, but her glare showed her displeasure at even coming close to the glowing lightning blade. Using her wings, she leapt backwards off the ground and landed well out of Galen’s range. He chased. She had barely enough time to bring the halberd to bear before he began raining down blows, one after another, with a speed born from battle fervor. The attacks hit harder the longer Galen’s assault lasted, even sending shocks of red lightning like before. The mothman desperately tried to leap off the ground and create more space, but her wings could not make that first jump alone, and her feet were in a constant backpedal to keep Galen from hitting flesh.
  37. Seeing her desperation, his eyes narrowed. His teeth gnashed together and he pulled Toneruth back to put every ounce of strength he had behind it. His opponent was before him; nothing else mattered. The blade screamed for blood. Galen’s muscles tensed. His arms swung about, straining to put more and more speed behind the blow. The air around the blade’s edge crackled with energy. Gaping at the sword as it swung, the mothman stepped back, but at the same time jabbed forward with her halberd, knowing a piercing strike would be faster than a swing. She almost smiled when Galen didn’t move to dodge, but a clump of red slime caught the halberd tip and tossed it to the side just before it connected. The mothman gasped as Galen yelled.
  39. His will was to cut.
  41. The blade cut through the halberd’s shaft as if it were jelly. The tip snatched the mothman’s fingertips as well, sucking the strength from her grip and causing her to recoil in pain. Both halves of the halberd clattered to the ground, the cut still sparking from Toneruth’s kiss. The mothman wasted no time. She knew the battle was lost, and spun on her foot to retreat.
  43. Showing her back only fanned the flames of Galen’s anger. He would not let those guilty of threatening his friends escape. Blood and energy pumped into his legs and he pounced forward, his eyes locked onto the mothman’s back where her wings blossomed from her body. And that is where Toneruth found purchase. The sword gave a satisfying sizzle as it sunk into flesh, sending those red-hot arcs of lighting across her body, ripping through her muscles and draining them of all life. Snarling, Galen twisted the blade just to see the mothman twitch in reaction, then pulled it free.
  45. She slumped to the ground, and Galen faced his his final opponent. At least, he intended to, but her talons found his head before he could turn all the way. They dug into his scalp and chin, drawing out gashes as they raked his skin. Galen hissed in pain, seizing the harpy’s leg and tearing it off, mindless of the further damage it caused. His blood rose to boiling and he slashed out in anger, cutting through the leg he held. The harpy spasmed. Squealing and shrieking, she kicked his head, causing him to stumble back and release her. The moment his senses returned to him, Galen had both hands on Toneruth and ran at the harpy. He hungered for his enemy once more. Raw emotion fueled his body beyond the point of reasonable function. He leapt up and took a swing at the harpy, but she was already too high to reach. Giving Galen a taunting hiss, she took to the air and flew out a far distance.
  47. Galen set his feet. She’d be coming back. She’d try to use speed and her aerial agility to get in a quick, vicious strike, then fly past him. But he had no intention of letting her get even one attack off. He drew Toneruth back, over his head, trying to get as much elevation as possible with his next attack. What she managed to land on him didn’t matter--all he wanted to see was his sword cut through her and her limp body on the ground. Nothing else would give him the satisfaction he needed.
  49. The air whistled at the harpy’s approach. She was taking a steep angle, using her dive to build up incredible speed. Her body cut through the air like a knife, growing in Galen’s vision at an alarming rate. His heart thrummed faster. His legs tightened up. His arms burned with purpose. His eyes locked onto the harpy, piercing her as well as any blade. The battle was decided.
  51. Stepping into the swing, Galen brought Toneruth down with all the anger that raged within him. Lightning surged from his hands, from Toneruth, and lashed out at the sky. The harpy had seen Galen’s intention, and veered off to his weak side, away from the blade, but her fate was already sealed. While the glowing red edge of Toneruth never touched her, the lightning bursting forth did. It raveled around the harpy, denying her any escape, and ripped through every inch of her body all at once. Her lungs burned back before she could even scream.
  53. Galen didn’t need to see to know the harpy was defeated. Her body hit the ground with a pleasing thud, sliding a few feet in the dust as if to add to her humiliation.
  55. Finally. Galen let out the longest sigh he’d ever released, his voice raspy and broken even in his brief celebration. The deed was done. His enemies had paid. While he didn’t have the will to smile, he did manage to lose the twisted snarl of fury in favor of dull gape. Groaning, he stood up straight and looked at Toneruth. The red glow had since vanished as if it were never there. All that looked back at Galen was the impromptu dagger from before the fight. He couldn’t muster the concentration to speculate what had happened or why. It wasn’t important right now. He slipped the sword back into its scabbard, and looked around for Seira.
  57. His limbs turned to honey and he collapsed on the spot.
  59. “Woah!” cried out a voice, followed by a scuffling of feet.
  61. Galen had to force his eyelids open to find the source of the voice. Sybyll was crouched over him on one side, and Mino was on the other. It only occurred to him then that Mino was no longer covering him. “W-w-wh…” Galen coughed violently, the words dying in his cracked, dry throat.
  63. “They’re defeated, Galen. You beat them. That’s all you need to worry about. I’ll make sure you’re safe,” said Sybyll, propping his head up.
  65. Mino’s lip quivered and she nodded in agreement.
  67. He opened his mouth, but again nothing came out. How was Seira doing? Was Mino up to the rest of the journey? Would she be able to treat Seira?
  69. “Don’t worry. Rest. Things shall be fine,” said Sybyll.
  71. His mouth ignored him. His eyelids were heavy as mountains, crashing down over his vision as a wave of darkness. Sleep took him bound in worry.
  78. “Galen?”
  80. Mumbling, Galen rustled from his sleep. The voice was familiar; he knew who said it even before he opened his eyes.
  82. “Morning, mom,” he said, stretching his arms and yawning.
  84. Sitting on the side of the bed, Galen’s mother smiled down at him. The bed gave way a bit under her weight, making Galen feel as if he were sliding toward her. Around him were the plain yet familiar sights of his room. A modest chest of drawers held his clothing, and a chest beside that was filled with odd items and tools he’d picked up or made over the years. The small frame of a window let in light and the scent of spring above his head. Taking a deep breath through his nose, he tried making out the different smells. He detected lilacs, likely from the field not far off, vegetables from the garden in the back, and a touch of rain, either just past or almost there.
  86. Looking over to the chest of drawers, he spotted a few different carvings, all misshapen in some way. The one of his father had one arm too large and the other too small. Next to it, a squirrel had a too-square tail and a snout that looked more like a beak. The last carving was a half-done sword. Something Galen had picked up in his spare time, but his father stopped him when he found out. ‘Swords are no toys, and their image is not to be trivialized’ he’d told Galen. ‘If you make a sword, you make a sword. Full size, metal, and capable of killing.’
  88. Instead of throwing the carving away, however, he’d told Galen to keep it. Set it out with the others. Galen wasn’t sure why; it looked even worse than the finished ones.
  90. Someone called from the other room. “Is he up yet?”
  92. “Yes, hun,” Galen’s mom replied.
  94. “Good. I need him to come with me. Have him get dressed right away.”
  96. Galen pleaded silently with his mother to allow him a bit longer to rest, but she shook her head gently.
  98. “You heard your father. Don’t be so mopey. There’s breakfast waiting for you when you’re ready.”
  100. Breakfast? It was a good enough compromise. Throwing the covers off, Galen hopped out of bed and scrambled to get dressed. He’d just begun to pick up the smell of breakfast from the other room and his stomach urged him on. Of course, he also didn’t want his father to come looking for him--he didn’t like asking for something twice. Galen even ended up skipping his morning routine he was so hungry.
  102. He stepped into the dining area just as he was finishing tossing his shirt on… and was subsequently pulled out the front door by his father.
  104. “But, dad, breakfast! I’m starving!”
  106. His father smirked. “You’ll eat after we’re done. Next time you shouldn’t sleep in.”
  108. Sleep in? Galen looked to the sun--it was already getting into the afternoon. His father was right, though that did little to appease Galen’s stomach. He grumbled, but followed after his father in silence.
  110. Their destination ended up being the docks. A cool, salty wind hit Galen as they walked up to the pier his father’s fishing boat was on. Sitting along the pier were four large, full basket of squirming fish. Galen gaped. He hadn’t seen a haul of fish this large since he could remember!
  112. “Wow.”
  114. “Had a good morning on the sea. Just about the whole village will have to eat fish for the next couple of days to finish these off before they go bad!” His father chuckled, laying a hand on Galen’s shoulder. “Now help me take these back to the village center where we can get these distributed.”
  116. Galen clapped his hands together. “Can I cook a couple for lunch?”
  118. “Sure. But you might want to get your mind off of food until we’re at least done with this.”
  120. Galen’s stomach growled and he frowned, putting a hand on it. That might be difficult.
  122. Just as he bent down to pick up the first basket, his father made an off-hand comment.
  124. “What are they doing over there?”
  126. “Huh?” said Galen. He looked to his father finding him looking off to another pier, then turned his attention to the same place his father’s was.
  128. A group of five men were loading up one of the large fishing boats. Galen cocked his head. It wasn’t exactly odd to watch a few fishermen prepare to leave.
  130. “What’s so interesting about them?”
  132. His father ignored the question, instead frowning and holding up a finger to Galen. “Stay here.” With no further explanation, he took off at a brisk walk, his eyes locked on the fishermen.
  134. Plopping down on the pier, Galen rested his head in his hands and watching his father. Was there something wrong with that boat? With what they were doing? Galen was obviously missing something, he just didn’t know what. Nothing to do but wait and see.
  136. “Hey!” said Galen’s father, waving as he approached the men. “That’s an awful lot of supplies for a simple fishing trip. Where are you headed?”
  138. A lot of supplies? Galen squinted, looking at everything the men were loading onto the boat. It was more than he was used to seeing, but it didn’t seem like too much.
  140. “Hoem.” From the way the man didn’t make eye contact with his father, Galen figured something was wrong. “Please don’t make this any more difficult than it already is. We decided this yesterday at the town meeting.”
  142. “Well, sorry for expecting you to have the sense to not go through with it. We’ve tried this once every year since the Kraken showed up. What makes you think this trip is going to be any different? How many boats are we going to lose to this?” Galen’s father gestured to the supplies they’d been loading. “You’re throwing all that away. I don’t think I need to remind you we’re on an island--that means everything we live off of comes from here, and a lot of it isn’t easily replenishable.”
  144. “I know.” By now, all five of the men had stopped and were facing Hoem, a few with their arms crossed.
  146. Galen swallowed.
  148. “Look, I know you mean well,” the man continued, “but all these arguments have been made. With a stronger boat and more men, we have a good chance of making it past the Kraken and getting to the mainland.”
  150. “’Good chance’? Damnit, the Kraken had lived her whole life in the water and we’ve barely gotten to know it! ‘A stronger boat’? You’ve seen what’s happened every time, regardless of who or what we send. The monster has strength beyond what we can account for! I’m not asking that you stop, just don’t put yourself at risk like this! Do what we’ve always done: get a small boat and have someone ready to pick you up when the Kraken shows up. This method is pointlessly wasteful!”
  152. “No. We’ve been stuck like this for seventeen years. Who knows how long this will last? We need to get to the mainland, and we have to try everything within our power. I won’t just sit here.”
  154. Hoem took a step forward. A couple of the men jerked back in response. “Think for a second! Use that head I’ve seen you use so many times before! You’re getting caught up with the spirit of this and doing something stupid! Just because the rest of the town thinks it’s a good idea doesn’t make it the right choice!”
  156. “I’m not arguing with you, Hoem. The decision has been made. We’re going. Please leave us alone.”
  158. The men turned and resumed what they were doing, leaving a huffing Hoem to slam a foot down on the pier before leaving. Galen winced at the sound. While his father walked back, Galen could decide whether or not to watch him or the men loading their boat. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen his father argue with other people from the village; in fact, it was somewhat common.
  160. When his father returned, his grimace melted into a smile. “Sorry, Galen. I know I shouldn’t fight like that around you. Your mother would smack me upside the head if she heard.” He leaned over and lowered his voice. “Think you can keep a secret?”
  162. Galen nodded, grinning. He didn’t mind his father’s arguments, even if he felt a little awkward afterwards. His curiousity happened to be much stronger than his sense of shame.
  164. “So what was that about? Why don’t you want them leaving?”
  166. Galen’s father shook his head. “Seventeen years of failed attempts and ruined boats. It’s not going to change just because they want it to. They’re letting their hopes distrort their vision of their opponent.” He glanced back over to the men. “I’ve seen enough monsters to know when one’s trouble.”
  168. “Like the adventurers in your stories?” Galen said, perking up.
  170. His father nodded. “Yes, like the adventurers. But in the end, men have the freedom to make mistakes.” Sighing, his head dropped for a moment before raising to look Galen in the eye. “We can only hope they learn from them.”
  177. His ears twitched at a familiar noise. Water poured into something nearby, a sound so fresh and present that he felt it leak into his ears and fill his head. He tried looking over to the sound, but his eyelids may as well have been petrified; no amount of effort seemed to move them. His lips were in much the same state. All he had was his voice, and while his lungs filled and emptied with lethargy, he could still manage making noise.
  179. What came out was something between a grunt and a toad’s croak. Had he any pride left, it would’ve embarrassed him to be associated with such a sound.
  181. “Galen?”
  183. The replying voice was familiar. Sybyll. He groaned again in acknowledgement, then felt a claw pick up his hand and poke at his fingers. The tickling touch of Sybyll’s clawtips made him twitch in response.
  185. “Can you hear me?”
  187. His head was stuck fast to whatever it was was lying on. He was lying down, right? Concentrating, he found his center of gravity and checked his orientation. Yeah, definitely lying down. The moment he probed his body, though, a cacophony of aches slammed into him. He sucked in a sharp breath on instinct. His face contorted as he came to terms with his state. Each breath carried tiny spikes into his throat along with a thick air, one he was all too familiar with. This was definitely still the Scorched Lands. At least he knew he was still alive--death would not be causing him this much trouble. Once more, Galen tried lifting his eyelids, and this time found some success.
  189. The claw left his hand, traveling up his arm to rest on his shoulder, the same one with the old injury from Fullsburg. A burning itch lit up where Sybyll touched him.
  191. “Good, you’re awake. It’s been a while. Are you aware of where you are?”
  193. “Uhhh” was all his throat allowed. His eyes focused on Sybyll. Though his surroundings were still a blur, he could make out enough of the lizardman’s stature to identify her. His lips curled upward. Even if she was pretty much invincible as she was, it soothed him to know she was fine.
  195. She squeezed his shoulder. “Take your time. Have a drink.”
  197. Water met his lips, a soft hand helping his jaw open just enough for a precious mouthful of liquid to enter. It tasted wonderful and Galen swallowed instantly, his throat begging for it much more fiercely than his tongue. Again the water came, and again he swallowed until the cup was empty. Parched lips rubbed against each other, finally knowing moisture. Galen couldn’t stop himself from closing his eyes in contentment. Smacking his lips, he found his voice right back where he’d left it.
  199. “Sybyll.” The air was as sand grating his throat as he spoke, and the word came out rough as gravel, but it was still speech.
  201. “Yes, it’s me. Are your eyes working?”
  203. “Sorta.” He had a hundred questions, but the pain of speaking kept his conversation as brief as possible.
  205. “Good.” He heard a sigh. “Mino was quite worried, though I assured her many times you would be fine.”
  207. “Cute.” A fit of coughs forced Galen to pause, each as coarse and painful as a hundred words. His voice probably wouldn’t be back to normal for at least a couple days like this. “And you?”
  209. “I suppose I had moments of concern as well. But your problem was merely fatigue, nothing more.”
  211. “Guess so.” But it wasn’t himself he was worried about. “Seira?”
  213. “Alive, but not well. The cuts were mostly shallow, but a few were bleeding at an alarming rate. Mino was able to keep her alive until we found further aid.”
  215. “Further aid?” They ran into someone in the Scorched Lands?
  217. “Perhaps you should open your eyes more fully. It may help to explain.”
  219. It was like trying to lift a pail full of rocks, but Galen still managed. His eyes opened all the way, letting in a harsh, reddish light. He had to blink several times before he was able to tolerate it, but eventually things came into focus.
  221. Currently, Galen was lying in a plush bed, an ornate wooden footpiece at the end, and neatly-woven white sheets covering his body. The walls were the same color as the strange light that filled the room--the burnt red that had chased them all throughout the Lands. However, they didn’t have the wood or stone patterns he was used to seeing in walls. They were quite smooth, at least they appeared so from a distance. That didn’t make sense, though--that would mean the whole building or at least the walls were cut out of one massive stone. To his left, behind Sybyll, a window cut a view of the outside into the wall. The bleak clouds and whirling dust of the Scorched Lands stared back at Galen, though there was more sunlight to it than he remembered.
  223. The familiar sound of water to his right grabbed his attention. Standing almost as tall as Sybyll, a scantily-dressed woman poured another cup of water for Galen. Her white top covered her upper chest and most of her shoulders, fairly tight against her skin, but nothing else. Her bottom piece was much the same, hiding only what would’ve been indecent to show. Her figure was more modest than most of the women Galen had found himself around recently, defining no clear muscles or curves, but by the way she held herself even in such clothing, Galen assumed she had no issues with confidence.
  225. It was then he noticed the wings.
  227. Much like Seira, this woman had wide, bat-like wings attached to her back, but this woman’s were black on the outside and a deep maroon on the inside, instead of the shade of red Seira had. They currently sat at rest, held out but not extended. Galen caught himself holding his breath and let it out. His eyes automatically went to the woman’s head next. Buired in a plush sea of blonde hair, starting near the back of her head and curling around toward the front were a pair of charcoal-colored horns. Noticing his attention on her, she took her eyes from the cup. They held a mischievous glint, like one would expect from a thief or merchant.
  229. Succubus.
  231. Galen started sweating. As if the heat and the covers weren’t enough. He’d heard plenty about succubi, probably more than any other monster. They were devious maidens of lust, always searching for men, hunger not in their bellies but their nethers. They could captivate you with a glance, or swoop down and snatch you away. Once under their spell, you’d be helpless, prey until they had their fill. All you could do was hope they stopped while life still resided in your body. Galen recalled many tales from his father mentioning succubi, and rarely did they have honorable goals. Maybe they wanted power. Maybe one man was not enough and they wanted several. Maybe you’d caught their eye and they were merely waiting for a chance to strike. Masters of magic, speech, and mind, succubi always got what they wanted.
  233. And there was one right beside him.
  235. Lost in thought, Galen didn’t notice the succubus had lifted the cup to his lips again and was waiting for him to drink. He snapped out of his stare, hand going to the cup automatically and almost spilling it in his imprecise haste. His fingers grazed against the succubus’, earning a fond smile from her as she slowly withdrew her hand, making sure to rub against Galen’s skin as much as possible. Blushing, his eyes gravitated to the cup and locked there even after he’d downed the drink. He hoped she hadn’t added anything to it.
  237. “You’re lucky, dearie. The Scorched Lands are not easy on humans as young as yourself, especially on the road you came in on,” said the succubus, prying the cup from Galen’s frozen hands.
  239. “I-I’m not that young! I had my coming-of-age day weeks ago,” he blurted.
  241. “Whatever you say, dearie.” She lingered on the last word as if she could molest him with mere talk. He certainly didn’t feel any cleaner for it. Setting the cup down, she stood up straight and raised a finger. “I didn’t find anything wrong with you other than an extreme case of exhaustion. I would highly suggest you stay in bed another day or so and continue to drink and eat plenty, but afterwards, you’re fine to continue on doing whatever it is you came out here for. I’ll check on you tonight and see how well you’re doing. Farewell.” With a not-so-subtle wink at Galen, the succubus spun on her heel and strutted out the door, her high-heels echoing against the stone floor. Galen gaped at her backside all the way out.
  243. The moment her rear disappeared, he realized he had quite a few questions. The first hit him like a sack of rocks.
  245. Where the hell was he?
  247. “Sybyll.” He turned to her, trying to sit up straight. His body barely complied and complained with aches at every move. “Where are we? What happened?”
  249. A tiny smirk grew on her face as she leaned over, grabbed Galen’s shoulders and gently pushed him back down onto the bed. “First: you need to stop fidgeting. Your body is strained enough as-is. Once you recognize this, I will explain our current situation.”
  251. Grumbling, Galen let his head flop back down onto the pillow. “Fine, mom. Just tell me what happened.”
  253. “I am not your mother, nor would such a thing be possible.”
  255. “It was sarcasm. Can you please tell me now? I’m about to start fidgeting again, only this time, it’ll be out of my control.”
  257. Sybyll shifted in her seat, back straight as a board and claws resting on her knees. “We are currently in Mallus’ city hospital. Mino and I carried you and Seira here after the battle.”
  259. Galen blinked. “Wait--Mallus? You made it all the way here while I was asleep?”
  261. “You have been asleep for a full day. The journey took Mino and I not even an hour.” She cleared her throat. “We were in a hurry.”
  263. “Wow. It kinda feels like I’ve been sleeping longer.” He clenched his fist to test it. “My body’s sluggish like I’ve been asleep for a week or something.”
  265. “Understandable. That day took a lot out of you.”
  267. “So what happened after you got here? Did they just let you in or were there guards like Fullsburg?”
  269. “There were indeed gates. Such a thing is necessary to keep the crazed monsters of the Lands from roaming the city freely. However, once the guards saw our plight, we were let in shortly and sent straight to the hospital. Mino used a significant amount of energy keeping Seira alive while carrying her, and subsequently collapsed not long after Seira was handed off to the doctor.” She pushed Galen back down when he started sitting up in alarm. “She is fine. Much more well-off than you.”
  271. “How is she handling the, um, effects of the Lands? It’s been a while and I know it gets worse over time.”
  273. “There are enchantments on Mallus that all but eliminate any negative mental or physical effects caused by the Lands. We are safe as long as we linger here.”
  275. Closing his eyes, Galen took several deep breaths. While everything didn’t sound perfect, at least all immediate danger had passed and they made it to their destination. It could’ve been worse. “And how long will Seira be out?”
  277. “The doctors couldn’t say. Her main concern was the blood loss. The cuts were healed rather quickly after she arrived--many of the doctors are capable mages. Replacing the blood, however, will take time and energy. As Seira is a monster, she will need energy from the most obvious source.”
  279. Galen blushed. “So, she needs me to, umm…?”
  281. Sybyll shook her head. “No. There is a supply here. She has been provided for.”
  283. Relief and disappointment struck Galen at the same time. “Good. Kinda convenient that they have a supply of semen. How big is this hospital anyways?”
  285. “Two floors and from my estimate, seven rooms per floor. Rather large.”
  287. “Wow.” He blushed as the next question popped up. “And who was that succubus?”
  289. “One of the doctors. She’s been tending to you more than the others.”
  291. His blush burned redder. “T-tending?”
  293. Sybyll’s voice went flat. “Not like that.”
  295. “Whew. Succubi are kinda scary.”
  297. Sybyll fidgeted in her seat. “Then you may have some difficulty staying here.”
  299. The sweat dripping down his brow became much more apparent. “What do you mean by that?”
  301. “Mallus is a city of succubi, Galen. Almost every resident is one.”
  303. His throat dried out all of a sudden.
  305. “Oh.”
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